author – activist – faculty – mom
Now that Obamacare has gone into effect, the health care picture has changed in many ways. Feminism, for example, used to be considered a pre-existing condition–terminal, inoperable, and incurable. Perhaps the fact that it may now be covered by insurance has inspired Maxim Magazine to offer a labor intensive, holistic “cure.”
While many feminists have been offended by Maxim’s “Cure a Feminist” campaign with its goal to turn a feminist into “a skinny white lady in see-through underwear,” I am taking an optimistic view. Coming from Maxim, this is a step in the right direction.
Let’s start with their opening line of Step 1 of the cure: “A feminist is just like any other woman.” Wow! This is progress. We are actually considered human and female.
The entire piece is directed toward today’s young man who sees a feminist whom he finds unapproachable and off-putting, but in whom he sees some sort of potential. To this end, the article suggests that the young man hide his actual views, and pretend to agree with her feminism, then draw her out with “intelligent questions” like “‘What must women do to earn equal pay for equal work?’” This is incredible! Maxim magazine is actually aware of a major issue on the feminism platform. Not to mention that they are sort of suggesting The Rules in reverse (a dating advice book from the ‘90s that suggested that women hide their true selves in order to snag a man for marriage: “Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right.”) Now the men are supposed to hide their true selves. What a turnaround!
In Step 2: the author suggests engaging in discussion about different types of feminism. He even quotes mainstream feminist literature, and suggests giving her a gift subscription to Bust magazine. A cure that includes supporting feminist media? Unprecedented!
Miraculously, Step 3 is titled “Treat Her Right.” They say not to be “overbearing,” and to pick up the check sometimes. Are you kidding me? The lads mag is actually advocating men being considerate and thoughtful toward women they are dating. They also suggest buying her clothes that say “feminist.” Granted, they advocate tight tank tops, so it undermines the message. They also say that the man should “unlock her repressed Malibu Barbie fantasies.” This should be offensive, but it’s so vague. They don’t offer advice as to how the man should do this, and don’t say what the fantasy actually is. In reality, Malibu Barbie is a doll who is mostly sitting in her dream car, outside her dream house with her Barbie friends. So I guess picking up the check sometimes is just to prepare her for the fact that the guy will be buying her a house and car and giving her plenty of freedom to hang with her girls? I think lots of feminists would be willing to compromise their principles for that.
The final step, apparently begins with the goal of the guy getting his “chin buttered.” Isn’t that slang for performing oral sex on a woman? The other goal is to “actually spend time with her.” The author suggests sporting events and camping. So let’s be clear: the goal is a relationship where they go camping and the guy pleasures her? Sounds less like a cure and more like a concession speech. Did he decide to call it “Cure a Feminist” because “Compromise With a Feminist” was too long?
From a healthcare perspective this is certainly an advance from the proposed cure from the 60s and 70s, which was “a good screw.” Maxim is also pro-screw, but with the key difference that the screw would be consensual–back in the 70s, not so much. Another subtle difference: previous generations threatened the screw to shut down the feminism, but this generation wants to tone down the feminism to accomplish ongoing, mutually pleasurable screwing.
There is certainly a truckload of sexism in this piece, and many grounds for objection. The photos are quite offensive, with predictable clichés about underarm hair, but they don’t actually correspond to the article. Nor does the tag line: “Turn an unshaven militant protesting vegan into a real girl.” Methinks he doth protest too much. Sounds more like a frat boy who’s fallen in love with a feminist and is trying to play it off to his friends. Under that misogynist exterior is a cesspool of simmering admiration and thinly veiled respect.
This isn’t a disdainful how-to guide for picking up feminists under false pretenses, this is a dating manifesto for the contemporary young man who is caught between his own sexism and his deep attraction to smart, loudmouthed women who are offended by him. If the Maxim reader waned a girly girl with no interest in feminism, the article would be titled “how to quickly spot a feminist: and push her aside to get to the real girls.” But it’s not. The feminist–tomboyish, militant, and filled with attitude–is the love interest in this piece. The goal isn’t really to “cure” her so that she’ll be barefoot and pregnant, rather to tone her down just enough to make room for the Maxim reader as a boyfriend in her contemporary feminist life. This is the awkward lovesong of the clueless guy to the badass girl he pines for. Underneath the sexist jokes, the Maxim crowd is being urged to pursue feminists as girlfriends. Maybe it’s because the last four decades of feminism have changed what even the Maxim reader is attracted to/wanting/expecting from women and relationships. Or maybe the last four decades of feminism have won over the hearts of so many of today’s young women that they dominate the dating pool and Maxim is helping the bros to cope with a transformed relationship landscape. Either way, I’m chalking it up to progress.